Monday, April 21, 2014


IT'S BACK!!!!!!


This time around, you are allowed to use ANY TERM found in APUSH - beginning to end!!

To make this interesting.... the WINNER gets a bonus 100 as a Unit Exam score!!!! (extra and does not excuse you from your final unit exam that is coming up!!!)  The one that post the most is the winner!! Plan and simple.  All you need is two people to get the ball rolling.  Don't forget the rules!!! If you break them, you lose points!!  Remember to keep hitting refresh so you are sure you are answering to the last post!  The game officially ends at midnight Friday!!!!

Dealing with X, Y, and Z words.  True, there aren't many of these in your APUSH historical terms, but to make the game interesting - when you get to any of these three letters, you must use any that does exist.  If there are no more words that begin with X, Y, or Z (x & z will be the hardest), then you can declare a "SKIP" and move to the next letter.  WARNING:  if the person responding to your next letter finds a word that has not be used - then they can declare a FOUL and YOU (the one that declared the "SKIP" will lose point.

ALSO.... Last time some of you tried to skirt around the rules!!! If you use "Alexander Hamilton" as your "A" word, NO ONE can use "Hamilton, Alexander" as their "H" word.  Once the word has been used, in ANY FORM, it cannot be reused!!!

BTW - when you reach the end of the alphabet - you know... you just start over from the beginning!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Should Columbus Day be Banned As a National Holiday?

The Pro Argument:

Columbus Day marks the arrival of Europeans to the New World, and celebrates the "beginning of a cultural exchange between America and Europe". America has more Columbus statues and Columbus memorabilia than any other nation in the world. He's admired for his bravery in sailing West at a time when most uneducated believed the world to be flat.

Columbus Day is the only day which recognizes the heritage of almost 26 million Italian Americans. Columbus Day became a national holiday in 1971 after Congress passed a law stating that the second Monday in October is Columbus Day. Along with the accomplishments of Columbus, the law passed in 1971 commemorates the arrival of over 5 million Italians a century prior. Columbus Day is thus the only day which recognizes the heritage of a group now nearly 26 million in size.
The intent, is to celebrate Columbus's arrival to the New World. Much like how Manifest Destiny didn't encourage the killing of Natives and much like how Independence Day doesn't celebrate the killing of British in the Revolutionary War, Columbus Day doesn't celebrate the deaths of Native Americans that may have ensued. It's a celebration of the discovery of the New World.

 The Con Argument:

The annual celebration of Christopher Columbus' landing on the island Hispaniola on October of 1492 is acknowledged by spreading false information about a tyrant.  There exist accounts of Columbus and the men under his orders committing heinous acts of genocide on a people that he himself described as peaceful.  The American early education system honors his holiday every year by teaching that Columbus discovered America, despite the fact that he landed on an inhabited island and the evidence of much earlier European settlers actually on the continent.  The very acknowledgement of Columbus Day is a result of lobbying in Congress and buying off representatives on the part of the Knights of Columbus who did so in the interest of promoting a "Christian, Italian role model."  If he were alive today, he would be tried for crimes against humanity.

Christopher Columbus's journey, in other words his goal, was in fact a failure. Considering his intent was to find a quicker trade route to India in order to acquire goods such as silk.. Even simpler way of saying this is that Columbus didn't discover jack. The Americas had already been flourishing with civilizations thus were in fact inhabited, making the "discovery" a bit of an overstatement.

An excerpt from Howard Zinn's " A Peoples History of the United States"..
" Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island. "

This is someone of which we celebrate??

Blog Question: What side of this debate do you support?  Why?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hypersensitive America?

This week’s blog topic comes from Maya.  She sent me this great article about this major backlash that a mom of three ended up having simply due to a FaceBook post and image that she posted.  CLICK HERE to read the article.  So, I began looking into this whole idea of just how hypersensitive our society has become.

Here’s a simple example.  According to a recent Rasmussen poll, nearly 35% of Americans believe that it’s “offensive to refer to an illegal immigrant as an ‘ILLEGAL immigrant.”  Seriously??

Has America became a society of hypersensitive babies?

Literally EVERYTHING that EVERYONE does in the media - be it in television, film, radio, print or on the web - is scrutinized, held under a microscope and perpetually monitored by a number of advocacy groups. “Watchdogs” who are sitting idly by, ready to bark for the simple sake of hearing themselves “bark.” Truth be told, I probably am going to have  a number of them find this on the internet and come after me for calling them “watchdogs” and using the derogatory word “bark.” (I’ll let you know if that happens!)

Here’s another good example:  Miley Cyrus recently pulled double duty on the Saturday Night Live show, appearing as both the host and musical guest.  Now, giving the Miley her due, most people that saw the program said that she “killed it.”  Now, in my opinion, Miley is far more self-aware than she gets credit for - meaning that she is purposely doing the shock and awe to self-promote herself; which there is nothing wrong with - again in my opinion.  During the show, she poked fun at all she’s currently vilified for - including how she incessantly, and annoyingly, sticks her tongue out.  Miley joked that she wasn’t actually sticking her tongue out at all, but rather, “kept having mini-strokes.”

Guess what??  Her comments infuriated the Stroke Association, who immediately demanded that Miley issue an apology.  SERIOUSLY!!!!  (and of course, she apologized..."sincerely")

Now, before I continue, let me clarify that I’m not a big Miley Cyrus fan (as a matter of fact, I don’t have a single one of her songs on my iPhone…just for the record); nor am I making light of strokes.  To be honest, that would be asinine (great SAT word, by-the-way).  Anyone with a modicum (yep, that would be another great SAT word!!) of intelligence knows that strokes are no laughing matter.  That being said, I also firmly believe that anyone intelligent enough to write a strongly worded complaint letter SHOULD be smart enough to realize a joke for what it is - even if you considered it in poor taste or not.  I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that even one stroke victim is currently dealing with lasting mental trauma brought on by a Saturday Night Live monologue.

Reality check: Sometimes - nay, actually, ALL the time - people say or do things that you don’t like.  For better or worse, that’s reality.  That’s life.  To be even  clearer, that’s the FIRST AMENDMENT.

One more example: Fez Whatley, co-host of Sirius XM’s popular Ron & Fez Show, recently went on a long, passionate on-air rant about a Chevy commercial that uses the word “crazy” multiple times, claiming that it was “insensitive to the mentally insane.”  Really?  As if “crazy” is a race, gender or nationality.  As if somewhere in the East Village, someone’s currently planning the next Nutjob Pride Parade (ok, that may be a bad analogy - but I think you get the idea).

Now, let me clarify that I DO believe that each one of us have a responsibility within society to be sensitive to others.  In a society it is important that we respect each other and not INTENTIONALLY degrade nor demean others for the pure sake of doing so.  Yet, with that said, it appears that our political correctness and hypersensitivity has gone overboard.  We’ve become too sensitive about things of which are by no ways or means meant to inflict harm on others.  As Maria Kang (the mom in the article that Maya sent) stated: “What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s Yours.  The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your head.  I didn’t create them.  You created them…”  (yet, she did make an apology..."sincerely")

Blog Question:

Do you feel that Maria Kang’s post was inappropriate? Has America become too hypersensitive?  Do “empty” and “forced” apologies only perpetuate a society of hypersensitivity?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Return of a Super Power?

"The West is blinking in disbelief – Vladimir Putin just invaded Ukraine. German diplomats, French Eurocrats and American pundits are all stunned. Why has Russia chosen to gamble its trillion-dollar ties with the West?

Western leaders are stunned because they haven’t realized Russia’s owners no longer respect Europeans the way they once did after the Cold War. Russia thinks the West is no longer a crusading alliance. Russia thinks the West is now all about the money.

Putin’s henchmen know this personally. Russia’s rulers have been buying up Europe for years. They have mansions and luxury flats from London’s West End to France’s Cote d’Azure. Their children are safe at British boarding and Swiss finishing schools. And their money is squirreled away in Austrian banks and British tax havens.

Putin’s inner circle no longer fear the European establishment. They once imagined them all in MI6. Now they know better. They have seen firsthand how obsequious Western aristocrats and corporate tycoons suddenly turn when their billions come into play. They now view them as hypocrites—the same European elites who help them hide their fortunes.

Once Russia’s powerful listened when European embassies issued statements denouncing the baroque corruption of Russian state companies. But no more. Because they know full well it is European bankers, businessmen and lawyers who do the dirty work for them placing the proceeds of corruption in hideouts from the Dutch Antilles to the British Virgin Islands.

We are not talking big money. But very big money. None other than Putin’s Central Bank has estimated that two thirds of the $56 billion exiting Russia in 2012 might be traceable to illegal activities. Crimes like kickbacks, drug money or tax fraud. This is the money that posh English bankers are rolling out the red carpet for in London.

Behind European corruption, Russia sees American weakness. The Kremlin does not believe European countries – with the exception of Germany – are truly independent of the United States. They see them as client states that Washington could force now, as it once did in the Cold War, not to do such business with the Kremlin.

When Russia sees Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal outbidding each other to be Russia’s best business partner inside the EU (in return for no mention of human rights), they see America’s control over Europe slowly dissolving.

Back in Moscow, Russia hears American weakness out of Embassy Moscow. Once upon a time the Kremlin feared a foreign adventure might trigger Cold War economic sanctions where it hurts: export bans on key parts for its oil industry, even being cut out of its access to the Western banking sector. No more.
Russia sees an America distracted: Putin’s Ukrainian gambit was a shock to the U.S. foreign policy establishment. They prefer talking about China, or participating in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Russia sees an America vulnerable: in Afghanistan, in Syria and on Iran—a United States that desperately needs Russian support to continue shipping its supplies, host any peace conference or enforce its sanctions.
Moscow is not nervous. Russia’s elites have exposed themselves in a gigantic manner – everything they hold dear is now locked up in European properties and bank accounts. Theoretically, this makes them vulnerable. The EU could, with a sudden rush of money-laundering investigations and visa bans, cut them off from their wealth. But, time and time again, they have watched European governments balk at passing anything remotely similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which bars a handful of criminal-officials from entering the United States.

All this has made Putin confident, very confident – confident that European elites are more concerned about making money than standing up to him. The evidence is there. After Russia’s strike force reached the outskirts of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, in 2008, there were statements and bluster, but not a squeak about Russia’s billions. After Russia’s opposition were thrown into show trials, there were concerned letters from the European Union, but again silence about Russia’s billions.

The Kremlin thinks it knows Europe’s dirty secret now. The Kremlin thinks it has the European establishment down to a tee. The grim men who run Putin’s Russia see them like latter-day Soviet politicians. Back in the 1980s, the USSR talked about international Marxism but no longer believed it. Brussels today, Russia believes, talks about human rights but no longer believes in it. Europe is really run by an elite with the morality of the hedge fund: Make money at all costs and move it offshore."

Blog Question:
Has United States lost it's once "feared" and "respected" status in the world today?  Is Russia, as the article suggest, about to make a major move and re-establish itself, economically, politically and militarily as a major super power?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Abolitionist or Terrorists?

Historian Kenneth Gray once stated that there existed a thin line between what one can call a patriot and terrorists.  He basic argument was that those the advocate a change for what they honestly believe to be fundamentally "right" can indeed be considered a true patriot.  Did not Thomas Jefferson state:

"And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Yet, one could, if one so desired, interpret the call to "...let them take arms" and "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots" to be a form of terrorism.  The Oxford dictionary definition of the word terrorism is, "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."  Therefore, one can clearly see Gray's point by stating that their exist that "thin line" between the two.

On February 14th of this year, a group of activists in Charleston, SC unveiled what has become a very controversial statue of the black abolitionists, Denmark Vesey.  The "New York Times" recently wrote an opinion piece on the controversy.  Click here to read the article and then fire away on the blog question for this week... should be an interesting one!!!

First, do you agree with historian Kenneth Gray that there really does exist a thin line between what one may call a terrorists or a patriot?  After reading the article, what is your opinion on the statue of Denmark Vesey - should it be celebrated or does it glorify the wrong message?

*Note: Thanks Melissa for bring this one to my attention!!!  Again, any of you that have an interesting topic to discuss, just let me know!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Is Evil, evil?

Ok, let me start by saying that I need to do a little "lead into" for this blog topic - just to make sure that we're all clear on the actual topic - "Is Evil, evil?"  So I ask that each of you do me the courtesy of reading what I have written here prior to posting your comments.

Several years ago I heard a speaker while in college speak about the importance of properly analyzing history.  The reason that I remember the core of his speech was that I found the topic to be interesting and the questions he raised to be thought provoking; and as most of you know, I love thought-provoking conversations.... the deeper, the better!  To my "sick" academic mind, a good evening would be to have a bunch of people sitting around and engaging in a great discussion on "deep" topics.  Anyway, moving on...

The professor was Dr. Demos of Yale University (btw, one of the most interesting history professors I ever had) and he was stressing how it is important for students of history, professors of history, research writers, etc., to learn to analyze history as history.  In other words, not give what they may conceive as clear-cut labels.  According to Dr. Demos, when we do that, we enter into a "wrong way to attempt to understand history."  History, of itself, has no unambiguously good actors or bad.  There are just actors.  In fact, good and evil should not factor in a historical analysis at all.  Properly done, history must be examined and analyzed from a dispassionate, almost other-worldly, perspective. Let me give you an example using the Civil War.

Lincoln fought a war to preserve the Union—a union that had been voluntarily, democratically entered by the various states and subsequent territories.  Take away the repugnant institution of slavery, and the Confederacy had the better democratic claim for what they wished to do, if the critical ideal for a democratic republic is self-determination.  Had Lincoln not been able to wrap his cause of preserving the Union in the flag of ending slavery, the 600,000 dead would have been an atrocious cost to pay in order to keep a voluntarily-entered union from being voluntarily and democratically dissolved.

Stripped of moral judgments, history abounds with irony.   Lincoln had to subvert the democratic will of the Southern state legislatures in order to preserve democracy.  He eventually used the greater evil of slavery as justification for his fight against Southern democracy, but it should never be forgotten that he didn’t issue the Emancipation Proclamation until 1863, well after hostilities had commenced.   He pinned his cause on eliminating slavery only when it appeared his cause of preserving the Union was in jeopardy.  One wonders, what rationale to hold together the Union would be available, if in the future some state democratically determined it wished to leave?  Considering that even client states like Iraq and Afghanistan have no choice about their limited participation in the Union, it would be outlandish to imagine that something would not be contrived if, e.g., Texas figured it would be better off going it alone, again.  Lincoln was lucky.  He had the abolition of slavery to steel the people’s hearts and minds to battle against their own people, and in some measure, against their own ideals.  Artfully leveraging slavery to his purposes was part of Lincoln’s genius.  It would take an even more astute politician to conjure such a compelling purpose today, if one of the several states sought leave to end its association.

Ok, continuing my example using the Civil War (yes, one of my favorite period so history to study), let's take a look at the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee.  Lee is perhaps the most mythologized and romanticized military leader in American history.  His tactical brilliance is routinely praised, though there is precious little evidence supporting the view.  In fact, Lee led tactical disaster after disaster, not least Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, which as any reasonably astute tactician understands, and all Lee’s generals at the time fully well knew, was nothing more or less than Confederate suicide.  In many ways, Lee was the Union’s best general.  History is always written by the victors, perhaps explaining the enduring myth of Lee’s tactical brilliance.  The victors would not wish to imagine that Lee’s defeat was anything other than the product of their own valor and determination against a formidable foe.

So, are we correct to label something as "evil" simply to justify our own desire to elevate our own "goodness" or to justify something we consider (or in history's case - the victor) to be morally good.  Could not one claim that Lincoln was an "evil" man for leading the country into a war that, as stated earlier, actually went against the very principals of the Declaration of Independence? If you don't think so, maybe you should take the time to re-read the Declaration of Independence, for it clearly stated:

"...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Would it not be equally justified to declare that Robert E. Lee was "evil" for leading the Confederate states into one disaster after another; only on the belief that for some reason the South was justified in it's succession?

What about other characters that we find throughout history?  Who is "evil"?  Why are they considered "evil?"  How will history look back at us 100, 500, or a 1000 years from now when they read that we aborted millions of unborn children (NO!!! THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-ABORTION MESSAGE!!!...but what if for some reason later on that it's discovered that a fetus at 1 week old can indeed feel would probably change the interpretations that some have about the "justification" of aborting a fetus...therefore the future may judge us completely different)?  Will we be considered an "evil" people?

Last but not least - the question must also be asked - is an individuals actions "evil" or is it the results of a given action that are evil?

Trust me, the topic is difficult to nail down and granted, the interpretations are just as varied as the events in history itself.  So here's the blog topic for this week.....

Is Evil, "evil"?  Can we effectively and justifiably declare someone or something in history as being "evil" - if so how or why? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014




Ok, so let me explain to you once again (since I did this in class already).  I will start the game off by giving you a historical term of which you have had since you started taking APUSH (that's right, all the way back to chapter 1).  The person responding to me, must give the HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE of that term and then that person names the next term, beginning with the next letter. Here is an example (not related to the subject, just so none of you really smart children decide to try and rip mine off....):

I post the word "APPLE"
John Doe responses with: "A fruit of which fell from a tree and hit Isaac Newton in the head; thus launching the Scientific Revolution"  NEXT WORD: BATS.....

And thus the game would have begun.  Again, remember that my example is NOT one of your historical terms.  You can use ANY of the terms you have had up to this point.  That means you can use APUSH 1 terms and APUSH 2 terms (up to Chapter 34).

Dealing with X, Y, and Z words.  True, there aren't many of these in your APUSH historical terms, but to make the game interesting - when you get to any of these three letters, you must use any that does exist.  If there are no more words that begin with X, Y, or Z (x & z will be the hardest), then you can declare a "SKIP" and move to the next letter.  WARNING:  if the person responding to your next letter finds a word that has not be used - then they can declare a FOUL and YOU (the one that declared the "SKIP" will lose point.

BTW - when you reach the end of the alphabet - you know... you just start over from the beginning!

How to win at this game.  Post the most historical significant definitions and new words.  The winner gets a free homework pass to be used on any assignment they choose!!!

The game stops at mid-night on Friday!!!


FIRST WORD: Anaconda Plan